Your shipment arrived on time, but it arrived damaged. What do you do? Here’s a quick guide to help you manage your damaged shipments and file claims as painlessly and as successfully as possible.

damaged shipments

Inspect the Shipment

Don’t sign for anything you haven’t inspected. Receiving should be checking each carton/pallet and looking for visible damage. Anything that comes on a pallet should have intact wrapping. Be suspicious of any pallet wrapped differently than the others. The different shrink wrap could be a clue that there is something missing or damaged on the pallet. If damages are spotted, they must be recorded on the delivery receipt. For example: “15 cartons are damp, have visible water damage, and 3 are torn open with exposed merchandise”. 

Witness, Record, and Document

Finding and noting visible damage is just the first step. The contents must then be examined in the presence of the driver. Smartphones are a great tool for taking photos of the goods (if you can record a video describing what you see, even better). Proper documentation and evidence gathering will only help your claim.

You’re Allowed to Refuse the Shipment

If the entire shipment is damaged and completely unsalvageable, refuse it. If the damage is partial, accept the whole shipment or you risk getting stuck with a hefty storage bill from the carrier. 

Contact the Carrier & Relevant Parties 

You should then move the damaged goods to an isolated place away from the undamaged pallets and near the receiving area. Once that is done, schedule an inspection by the carrier. Don’t wait, do it before the end of the business day. Though carriers have the right to inspect a damaged shipment, some will on occasion waive that right. If this happens, you should write a report about the damage. Be sure to calculate the financial loss due to the damage. The final number should include the appropriate fraction of all duties, taxes, and freight costs. You should also be sure to inform all relevant parties of the damage. Said parties may include the driver, the shipping warehouse, any exam site that examined the shipment, other carriers that handled the shipment (air or ocean), the freight forwarder, and your supplier. 

Follow the Rules & Don’t Procrastinate

Depending on the carrier, you can have anywhere from 9 months, 15 days or just 3 days to file a claim. Be aware of the rules, contracts, and policies that surround your carriers and damaged shipments and don’t procrastinate. If a claim is not received within the appropriate timeline, it will be denied. Also, make sure to get confirmation your claim was received by the carrier. It should also be noted that if you bought the goods under CIF terms, your supplier should have arranged for appropriate insurance and should be able to provide you with the relevant information. 

*A Note On Concealed Damage

Concealed damages are damages discovered after delivery. The merchandise appears to be in good condition but upon further inspection and unpacking, it is found to be damaged. Because they can make the argument the damage occurred after delivery on the receiver’s property, a carrier will most likely refuse concealed damage claims. Still, you should contact the carrier immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to get any compensation. Most often, the best case scenario is a partial settlement of the claim. 

For answers to frequently asked questions about damaged shipments, click here and for information on cargo insurance, click here

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